Autonomous Mobility

Competition in AI-powered AMR market

By Faith Wambui - Feb 03 2023
Competition between the leading players in the market or OEMs

One of the main strategies implemented by major robotics manufacturers is acquisitions. As a way to stave off competition, large companies are increasing and diversifying their portfolios by acquiring smaller companies in a bid to have a bigger market share and leverage on technology. Success in this strategy depends on a company’s approach and its overall goals and objectives giving it the ability to gain a competitive advantage that will be difficult to replicate. (Ferrer et al.)

Though Amazon is not a Robotics company, its diversification strategy has seen it venture into different industries to provide better services, manage risks and have a competitive advantage. For example, it acquired Cloostermans in the last quarter of 2022, a company that specializes in warehouse technologies (Palmer, 2022). However, Amazon’s acquisition of Kiva remains to be the biggest acquisitions of a major robotics company. Acquiring the robots manufacturer over a decade ago for $775 million paved the way for the company’s consolidation of its warehouse activities. Since then, the company has managed to develop robots that handle different warehouse activities such as the Proteus that helps employees move heavy items in the warehouse and the Cardinal an AI powered robot that helps in product selection (Amazon, 2022).

Another major player that has successfully implemented the acquisitions strategy is Teradyne Inc. Over the past decade, the company has made a number of acquisitions of robotics companies the latest one being AutoGuide Mobile Robots, a provider of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for material handling and logistics applications in the manufacturing and warehouse sectors. From the acquisition of Universal Robots in 2015, a Danish company that specializes in collaborative robots, also known as cobots to its acquisition of Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) in 2019, a provider of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for logistics and material handling applications. (Teradyne, Inc).

Though these acquisitions tend to reduce competition in the market, other manufactures have managed to retain their autonomy and remain competitive despite their size and market share. Some of these companies include, Fetch Robotics, GrayOrange, and KUKA. In recent news, Fetch Robotics announced that it had raised $46 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Robotics. This funding will be used to expand the company's market reach and strengthen its position as a leading player in the AI-powered AMR market, (Wall Street Journal). GreyOrange, another leading player in the market, has also been expanding its market reach through partnerships with major companies such as Amazon and Flipkart. KUKA, a leading robotics company based in Germany, recently announced its partnership with Siemens to integrate its KUKA robots with Siemens' MindSphere platform (KUKA).

Competition between the technology players (providing AI, ML, and softwares)

Competition among technology players is based on creativity and innovation, investment in research and efficiency of the products. Strategic partnerships provide a great way for companies to collaborate, share ideas, cut costs, spread risk and ultimately stay competitive. As mutual beneficial relationships, partnerships in the AMR industry are formed between established technology companies and OEMs.The major companies leading the charge include, NVIDIA, Intel, and Qualcomm. These companies provide the AI, ML, and software technologies that power the AMR devices developed by OEMs.

NVIDIA's GPUs are widely used for tasks such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and deep learning. The company also has a strong presence in the autonomous vehicle market, providing the technology for self-driving cars. NVIDIA, has partnered with a number of robotics companies to develop advanced autonomous warehouse robots. Through these partnerships, the company seeks to utilize intelligent video analytics, robotics, automation, and management to develop warehouse robots that deliver end-to-end visibility, increasing the accuracy of orders picked, packed, and shipped​ (NVIDIA).

Intel, a leading and technology provider, has in the recent past been expanding its market reach in the AI-powered AMR market. The company recently announced its partnership with Arendai, Inc. to develop advanced autonomous warehouse robots. The objective of this partnership according to the company is to, “leverage Intel hardware in Compute, CV, and AI spanning from embedded solutions to the Edge and Cloud and to demonstrate the potential of Edge Computing by moving the computation-intensive tasks to the Edge, with very low latency for real-time use cases” (Arendai).

Emerging or start-ups with high growth potential

Market disruption has been a great way for start-ups to establish their foothold in the market. In an industry that is yet to reach its peak in terms of software, hardware and product capabilities, market disruption are a common feature of product development. As a strategy, disruptive innovations often start by serving overlooked or niche markets before eventually displacing established market leaders. Another common strategy used by startup companies is sourcing of funds through venture capital and the sale of shares. Emerging or start-ups in the AI-powered AMR market with high growth potential include companies such as Locus Robotics, 6 River Systems, Magazino,  InVia Robotics and Addverb Technologies, an Indian company that was valued at $250 million in the beginning of 2022 when it sold part of its shares to Reliance Industries. (Addverb, 2022). 

Locus Robotics is a technology company that specializes in autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for warehouse automation. Locus Robotics' AMRs are considered to be a disruptive technology in the warehouse automation market, as they enable companies to automate their warehouse operations at a fraction of the cost of traditional automation solutions. In terms of funding, Locus Robotics, the company recently announced that it had raised $40 million in a funding round led by Zebra Ventures (Locus Robotics).

Magazino solutions are considered to be disruptive in the warehouse automation market because they are equipped with advanced cognitive robotic systems that allow them to understand and interact with their environment in real-time. Additionally, Magazino's solutions provide real-time data and analytics that enable warehouse managers to optimize their operations.

InVia Robotics' solutions are considered to be disruptive in the warehouse automation market because they are easy to implement and use, and provide a more cost-effective and flexible alternative to traditional automation solutions. InVia Robotics uses a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model that allows for easy scalability and allows warehouse managers to pay for only the services they need. The company recently announced that it had raised $30 million in a funding round funded by Microsoft, Qualcomm and Hitachi (Supply Chain Quarterly, 2021).

Autonomous Mobile Robots
Warehouse Automation
Autonomous Mobility
Market Competition
Merger and Acquisitions

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